Report

Evidence of nonthermal particles in coronal loops heated impulsively by nanoflares

Science  17 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6207,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255724

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Abstract

The physical processes causing energy exchange between the Sun’s hot corona and its cool lower atmosphere remain poorly understood. The chromosphere and transition region (TR) form an interface region between the surface and the corona that is highly sensitive to the coronal heating mechanism. High-resolution observations with the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) reveal rapid variability (~20 to 60 seconds) of intensity and velocity on small spatial scales (≲500 kilometers) at the footpoints of hot and dynamic coronal loops. The observations are consistent with numerical simulations of heating by beams of nonthermal electrons, which are generated in small impulsive (≲30 seconds) heating events called “coronal nanoflares.” The accelerated electrons deposit a sizable fraction of their energy (≲1025 erg) in the chromosphere and TR. Our analysis provides tight constraints on the properties of such electron beams and new diagnostics for their presence in the nonflaring corona.

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